Water Woes In Bulawayo

      10/3/2023       Next-->

I do my best to make the Morning Mirror lighthearted and non-condemnatory but on a recent visit to Barbourfields, and seeing the jaw-dropping lines of folk queuing for water at the city council boreholes, it broke my heart enough to make a quiet stand and a rant into the blogosphere.

Exactly 30 years ago the then 'worst drought in history' hit Southern Africa and Zimbabwe was one of the worst hit.
This brought 115 million people in southern Africa to the brink of catastrophe. Already, the shortage of water and food in Zimbabwe was at a critical stage in this landlocked nation.

A quote from the Washington Post:

'Nobody living is able to remember a drought of this nature," said Dumiso Dabengwa, a member of parliament and deputy home affairs minister, who was promoting a plan to build a 300-mile, $300 million pipeline to bring water to the city from the Zambezi River'.

In Bulawayo, households were limited to 2 x 44 gallon tins of water a day to run each household. This included: bathing, washing, cooking, and flushing toilets. Bulawayo was a city of 1 million people at that time, and the water pressure in the sewage system had dropped so low that pipes begun bursting from the buildup of sludge and gas.

My reportage also made it into the Post and I quote 'the city council launched a television campaign urging residents to flush their toilets in unison at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. in hopes of increasing the water flow. The campaign, entitled "Bulawayo Must Live," was renamed "the big flush" by local newscaster Margaret Kriel'.

It was 30 years ago that I hosted that TV show called 'Bulawayo Must Live'. It was a bi-weekly, 15 minute segment on ZTV about the water situation in Bulawayo and most importantly, it deconstructed to the average person how to conserve water.

HeeHoo had been on a business visit to Arizona at the invitation of the US Government and had brought home with him a great deal of literature on water conservation. Arizona has always lived with very little water and had made plans to cope with situation. It was a time before google!

And so my cameraman Reuben Mujuru and I rushed around the local dams- taking footage of the painfully limited water supplies- more mud than much else. Putting together slides and 'Heath Robinson contraptions' to show the populace how to save water with very little in the way of visual aids, it was a fraught campaign to say the least. I suppose I went down in history as the TV presenter who initiated 'The Big Flush'!!

Now here we are 30 years later in the same situation, partly because of the fact that we live on the edge of a desert and partly because of man's neglect, this time not because of drought but because of a series of horrifying aspects to life in Zimbabwe. Power cuts, pump breakdowns, frequent low rainfalls, gold panning destroying the water flow, illegal dams built on the watercourses etc etc.

'The Zambezi Pipeline' project brought us all together as a community, with multiple fundraising initiatives undertaken. We stood together, fought together, hoped together, and then it all fizzled out as a damp squib.

Some years later work on the Gwayi/Shangani Dam started, by a strange quirk of fate, the initial dam wall was washed away by heavy rains..

Now the dam is in full swing, it has been 'near completion' more times than I have had Sunday lunches.... and we are all very excited. But water, according to those armchair pundits, is a long way away. Once the dam is complete, the water has to travel 200 kilometres from Gwayi/Shangani to Bulawayo. The elevation of the dam is 887 meters, the elevation of Bulawayo is 1341 Meters quite a climb for pipeline full of delicious potable water!! And so the armchair pundits state that as well as digging, procuring and laying 200 kilometers of pipeline, several massive booster pump stations need to be built. Now I hope I stand corrected, maybe this is all in 'the pipeline'

Will I still be alive to taste and bathe in the glorious water from the much desired Zambezi Pipeline or will it merely be a pipe dream


Members and Non Members please note:
SPCA AGM 21st MARCH 2023 AT 4.PM
Please make an effort to be there to support our animals.

Rotary Club of Bulawayo South invites you to attend.
Dates: Friday 3 March - First Prelim
Friday 10 March - Second Prelim
Friday 17 March - FINALS
Time : 2.00 - 4.00 pm
Venue : Zimbabwe Academy of Music, next to ZITF
Entrance : Free

If you have old Zim notes I buy them!!
Millions, Billions and Trillions, if you have 50 and 100 trillion.
The prices are awesome inbox for more details
princebharura6@gmail.com or call 0773243100